I’ve been feeling a little unplaced the last few weeks.
Journeying between my rich old life and this rich new one.
We say old to mean the past, the former, what we no longer have or do:
Our old house, our old dog, our old job.
My “old” is living alone as a single mama-on one floor of a two family home.
The upstairs was Uncle’s old apartment.
Now we (Shrek+boys+me) are living in the entire two family home-as one NEW family.
Shrek’s grown children are also our new family. They visit and do their laundry, eat birthday cake, and just hang out with their dad on the couch in the late afternoon. It is so new for all of us. A new that can only become an old, through several loads of laundry, and your feet hanging over the couch that used to be in his old house too.
How do they take in these two bonus boys climbing all over their sphere of understanding about who their dad is? What does it feel like to them to see the sawdust in Shrek’s hair from the loft beds he made for these sons-and little brothers-in-training? Of course they are being nothing short of magnificent with all of us. I feel so blessed by my bonus kids too. It allows me to tap into a way of being that feels so easy, and natural for me, as I have many young people their age in my life already.
Then there is Shrek and his experience of all of their adjusting. How is he reconciling his old and his new? My deepest sense is that we are all falling into family with each other right on pace. It is, after all another kind of love–family love. It has awkward moments, but really they are just moments that are. Just leaves around this growing family tree scattered about. Colorful, rich, and vibrant.
Then there are the days that I go from feeling like I was really good at being a single mom, to feeling like I am really rotten at being a co-parent, a partner, a fiance-in-trainning (no not yet mom) all the time. Then, sometimes I feel like I have all my plates spinning in sync and I don’t dare exhale. I can do this. I can. I think I can. Hey look! I’m doing it…
Who picks them up now?
Do I pick them up alone?
Do I know how to really ask for his help?
Do I get scared he’ll say no if I do ask?
Do I get resentful when he doesn’t just pick them up without my asking?
Do I get defensive if he picks them up his way, and not my way?
Do I remember how to be appreciative when he finds a different way to put them back together that works too?
Like Marcel’s Harold and the Purple Crayon imitation up the stairwell wall all the way in to the living room, and ending on the cushions of Shrek’s couch (with a washable-thank you Universe-marker) was a recent straw on this camel’s back.
I felt ashamed. Shrek seemed stunned. Marcel washed the walls, Shrek cleaned the couch, and the apology letter was crafted. Dust settled. It was not the end of the world. I sat alone for a moment wondering if this “trail” Marcel drew was an indication things were moving too fast for him? For all of us? Was Shrek upstairs wondering if this was more than he bargained for?
In the next breath I wondered if it wasn’t the story-teller in Marcel, just marking the transition, and asking us all to notice, he was making his way up the stairs too.
Alas, we are here.
Behind leaves, and with shaved heads*.
We are upstairs, and we are downstairs.
We are old and we are new.
* Sometimes it is time for a change, and sometimes that change is dramatic, and turns out to be just what you needed.